Video of the unnamed man, who was wearing a “Trump 2020” mask and “Black Voices for Trump” hat, was shared on social media.
The footage shows a member of airport staff requesting that he get off the plane, while the passenger can be seen with his mask pulled underneath his chin.
“Right now, you’re not going on this airplane,” the employee says.
The woman recording the video seems to suggest that the man only lowered his mask to eat a snack. She can be heard asking, “Can you tell me the policy that prevents him from taking his mask off while he’s eating please?”
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She repeats: “Please show me the policy that says he cannot eat with his mask off?”
The woman claimed the male passenger was being discriminated against because of his political affiliations, saying: “It’s the hat and the mask, it’s not the eating.”
Donald Trump Jr picked up on the story, retweeting the video alongside the caption: “WTF??? This is disgusting.
“I’ve been on a thousand flights in the last few months and everyone lowers their masks to eat and drink. I did it on a Southwest flight earlier this week.”
However, the airline has stressed that the passenger was removed after repeatedly failing to comply with instructions from the crew.
“Our reports indicate a customer traveling Tuesday on flight 2632 (Tampa to Dallas) was repeatedly asked by several employees, both before and after boarding, to comply with our mandatory face covering policy,” a Southwest Airlines spokesperson told The Independent.
“When he would not, we returned to the gate and moved him to a later flight, only after receiving his assurances that he would comply with our policy.
“We regret any inconvenience others onboard experienced because of the delayed departure. Our crews are responsible for enforcing our policies and fostering an environment for well-being and comfort of everyone onboard.”
Southwest, like most US airlines, has introduced a policy requiring all passengers over the age of two to wear a face covering on flights during the coronavirus pandemic.
The spokesperson added: “It’s understandable that anyone would briefly remove a face covering to eat, drink, or take medicine. This particular issue was solely centered around our face covering policy and the lack of compliance by this customer.
“Southwest Airlines employees welcome onboard millions of customers every year, with a goal of treating each one with respect, kindness, and fairness - delivering our world-class warmth and hospitality. And, we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”